The Punjabi Deli has been tucked in a corner on 1st Street near 1st Avenue since 1994. Open 24 hours a day, they serve mostly cab drivers, but many locals have also discovered the deli's delicious and inexpensive vegetarian dishes of Indian cuisine.
Punjabi offers cabbies a place to rest and refuel, and to socialize and create connections. Sometimes, one of the workers will break into spontaneous song.
But business has been declining for Punjabi. Owner Singh told the Lo-Down last year that he "lost half his business over the past few years with less parking available in the area and construction on Houston Street making it harder for taxis to stop at his deli."
It used to be you'd see a yellow stripe of taxis lined up in front of Punjabi. Now you see construction materials.
Punjabi is petitioning the city to bring a taxi relief stand to the front of the deli, a place where taxis can park for an hour so drivers can get a meal, use the rest room, and relax before getting back behind the wheel.
You can sign the petition at the deli or go online here to sign.
The petition reads, in part:
"Since last 21 years all taxi drivers go to this particular area to have break from their hard work for a cup of tea or breakfast, lunch or dinner. They use Punjabi Dhaba, located on 1st street and Avenue A, facility as quick washroom and relief... Though the City and state government collect taxes for each trip from commuters in the form of surcharge through hard working of drivers, they do not create or give much facility and respect to taxi drivers... The Punjabi Dhaba is loosing its business and local area customers also and running their operations is getting very difficult for them."